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Darfur: Beijing envoy says world can do more

by Staff Writers
Khartoum (AFP) Feb 27, 2008
China's special envoy to Darfur on Wednesday urged the international community to step up peace efforts in the war-torn region and advised its ally Sudan to do more to cooperate with world powers.

Liu Giujin was wrapping up a three day visit to Sudan undertaken amid a growing international outcry over China's alleged reluctance to use its influence on Khartoum to end the bloodshed in Darfur.

He called for a "concerted effort from the international community" on Darfur, noting that countries have yet to pledge the 24 helicopters needed for peacekeepers to successfully police an area the size of France.

And he said he had used the visit to persuade Sudan to show greater "flexibility and cooperation" over the deployment of UNAMID peacekeepers in its troubled western province.

Liu, due to leave Khartoum early Thursday, had talks with Sudan's President Omar al-Beshir and the head of the peacekeeping force, Rodolphe Adada, during his visit.

"The most urgent thing according to Adada and some responsible persons for UNAMID is that we should speed up the deployment of troops from African countries, like from Egypt, from Ethiopia," Liu said.

Liu said the international community had not "engaged fully" with the Sudanese government on certain technical issues, and he urged Western countries to "use their positive influence" to bring rebels to the negotiating table.

China has come in for intense criticism for its role as the biggest importer of Sudan's oil and a key arms supplier to Khartoum.

Hollywood film-maker Steven Spielberg resigned as an artistic consultant for the upcoming Beijing Olympic Games over the conflict in Darfur, which the United States describes as the first genocide of the 21st century.

Nobel Prize winners and Olympic athletes also wrote to Chinese President Hu Jintao, asking him to push Sudan to end atrocities in Darfur.

But Liu said China's traditional non-interventionist approach would remain a general "cornerstone of Chinese foreign policy for a long time".

"I take the opportunity during my meetings... here in Sudan to give them advice to further flexibility and co-operation with regard to a few remaining technical problems for the deployment of UNAMID troops," he said.

He said Sudan had already overcome various obstacles, for example, in agreeing with the UN-African Union peacekeeping force its rules of operation.

The Darfur conflict, which the United Nations says has claimed the lives of an estimated 200,000 people and displaced 2.2 million, has raged since 2003 when rebel groups demanded a greater share of the country's resources.

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Dark anniversary for Darfur
Khartoum (AFP) Feb 26, 2008
The deadly conflict in Darfur entered its sixth year on Tuesday with no solution in sight as Khartoum continued to resist the full deployment of a peacekeeping force amid a fresh wave of bombings.

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